Yesterday I emailed and faxed David Berkoff at his law office in Missoula, Montana, querying whether he referred to Rick Curl when Berkoff wrote, in a colorful 2010 email, that it was “a flat out lie” for USA Swimming to be denying knowledge of “[REDACTED] and others banging their swimmers.”
Berkoff, an Olympic gold medalist and International Swimming Hall of Famer, was elected technical vice president of USA Swimming in September 2010, shortly after transmitting these words to a swimming parent. (The fuller text of Berkoff’s email is again reproduced at the bottom of this post.)
The context of the Berkoff email is that, in the wake of ABC’s 20/20 investigation of youth coach sex abuse, which aired in the spring of 2010, he was holding himself up as a whistleblower.
Once on the USA Swimming board, however, Berkoff fell silent – offering gobbledygook responses in depositions in civil lawsuits by abuse victims, and failing to answer my many queries to him in multiple media.
Here’s how Berkoff summarized his position last month in a comment on the discussion board of the website swimswam.com:
“[I]n 1991 I was a 23 year old swimmer who had the guts to come forward and address the issue of sexual abuse of athletes. I was hardly in charge or in a position of power. What I did do in 1991 was this: I chaired the first abuse subcomittee which developed what became the first code of conduct, albeit later than I would have liked. I resigned from the BOD in 1993 and was gone for 17 years. I got back into USAS after the Andy King issue twenty years later (in 2010) and helped author and advocate for passage of the most ground-breaking athlete protection policies in amateur sports. Those of us who were there at the 2010 USAS convention will recall that this legislation passed unanimously. That’s what USAS is. We are a family. We stand up whe we see a wrong and solve the problem.
“I love this sport. I also want pedophile coaches out of this sport. I want athletes and parents to feel safe in our sport. From my experience in the past two years o the Board I have yet to meet anyone who disagrees.
“I’m proud of USAS for taking on this issue and being a leader on this issue even if makes what occurred in the past look bad. I think USAS is way ahead of the game now but we need to contInue to be vigilant. Unless and until swimmers like Kelly Davies come forward and testify and participate in the process USAS (like all other sports governed by the federal Amateur Sports Act) bad coaches cannot be removed from our sport.
“Keep the faith swim fans.”
And now back to today’s question. In the message below, was Berkoff talking about Rick Curl, who we now know raped Kelley Davies over a period of years, starting in 1983 when she was 13?
Berkoff won’t say.
“Denying knowledge of [REDACTED] and others banging their swimmers! It’s a flat out lie. They knew about it because we (coaches and athletes) were all talking about it in the late 1980′s and early 1990′s. I was told by several of [REDACTED] swimmers in 1988…. I was told [REDACTED] was molesting [REDACTED] for years starting when she was 12 by some of the Texas guys.”